These are examples of work done towards the end of Mary’s study of Chinese Brush Painting in Singapore, with the master Chen Wen Hsi. The first two are mounted on scrolls, the second two are framed. She also took classes in calligraphy with another artist so that she could sign her paintings with the four characters of her name.
My Study of Chinese painting in the studio of Chen Wen Hsi
This period in my life marked the moment when a childish delight in drawing and painting, abandoned during studying and starting a career in teaching, gave way to an absolute imperative to paint. I was the only European in the class and I had no common language with Chen Wen Hsi, but this was unimportant. Communication was entirely through the art, as we all stood in respectful silence while the Master painted and we then did our best to copy, not only the technique but the spirit of the work. The paintings he did for us were totally traditional, but it was exciting to see that in his own work he had developed an individual style that bordered on the abstract. The weekly lesson was the highlight of my week. I was totally entranced by the gentle rhythm of the class. It was only much later that I was able to read and study something of the philosophy of Chinese art, but looking back, I realise that it was this spirit that permeated the whole atmosphere of the studio. I took all my Chinese painting materials with me when we left Singapore, but I could not maintain the technique on my own in our next posting in the Middle East, so it was then that I started painting in Western style watercolour. Although I now also paint in oils as well as watercolour I am still very much aware of that inspirational energy that has lasted so many years.